Five things: The crucial area that will keep Joe Schmidt up at night, Wright shows he’s ready for Wallabies return


The Brumbies kept themselves firmly in the hunt for a top-two finish by scraping past the Crusaders on Saturday afternoon.

Had they lost, they would have rued the decision to kick for the corner and come up with nothing rather than bank three points from Noah Lolesio’s reliable boot and extend the margin out to 13 points.  

Ultimately, the blunder didn’t cost them on this occasion, but it was another invaluable lesson in banking points.

Indeed, who remembers the recent World Cup Final? The Springboks won their second Webb Ellis Cup in France without scoring a try.

While Joe Schmidt will have been pleased with some of the rugby he saw in the nation’s capital, he and scrum coach Mike Cron won’t have slept easy later that night.

Not for the first time this year, the Brumbies’ scrum was owned.

James Slipper and Allan Alaalatoa have their work cut out to get the Brumbies’ scrum issues resolved. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Weeks after being well beaten in the area by the Hurricanes and Fiji Drua, Fletcher Newell dominated James Slipper and the Brumbies’ scrum came up short regularly against a strong Crusaders front-row.

The concerning nature of that is without Angus Bell, James Slipper and Allan Alaalatoa will make up two of the four props Schmidt will all but certainly call upon in July.

It’s no wonder Schmidt told Taniela Tupou he wasn’t going anywhere later this year, even if, as expected, it’s the end of the road for the Rebels. Is it time for Scott Sio’s number to be dialed?

More pressingly, the Brumbies will struggle to go deep in the competition if their scrum issues aren’t resolved sooner rather than later.


He might have been fortunate to get away with his final pass, but Tom Wright is making it hard for Schmidt to look anywhere else than him to wear the Wallabies No.15 jersey.

Rather than kick stones after being left out of Eddie Jones’ World Cup squad last year, Wright has thrived and developed into a better player.

On Saturday, the 26-year-old stood out for the Brumbies during their nail-biting win.

The ONE-HANDED show and go ????????

Tom Wright, that’s ridiculous ????‍????????‍????#SuperRugbyPacific #BRUvCRU

— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) May 18, 2024

His defining moment came with the score level at 24-all late in the piece as he decided to run the ball back from inside his 22-metre line rather than look for touch.

The courageous decision paid off as Wright beat Sevu Reece and Johnny McNicoll, before linking up with a teammate on the halfway line.

After the Crusaders scored the previous 10 points to draw level in the 75th minute, the attacking move swung the momentum back in favour of the home side.

Three weeks earlier he did the same thing against the Hurricanes, who looked to be finishing over the top of the Brumbies.

In both cases, the decision to run the ball paid off.

Whether or not they would in the Test arena remains to be seen, with space one of the things that quickly closes on the international stage, but Wright’s decision-making and execution have certainly improved in 2024.

Tom Wright is putting together a compelling case to return as the Wallabies’ fullback. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

It looks like Wright is in battle with Andrew Kellaway for the first crack in the No.15 jersey, with the duo just ahead of Jock Campbell.

One of the factors that could swing it further to Wright is his combination with Noah Lolesio, who also happens to be Australia’s best sharp-shooter in 2024.

With Carter Gordon doing away with the kicking duties on Friday night, it’s another factor that has Lolesio and Wright just ahead.

There’s no reason why Kellaway can’t feature on the wing either.


It wasn’t a surprise to see the Waratahs go down to the Force on Saturday night, but it would have been painful that several of their former players played their part in ending their finals hopes.

Ben Donaldson naturally got the plaudits given his 17-point bag, but Tom Horton, Will Harris and Jeremy Williams were influential in the defeat too.

That’s not including Carlo Tizzano and Kurtley Beale either. Or NSW born Izack Rodda.

Ben Donaldson starred in the Force’s big win over the Waratahs. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

The defeat shined a spotlight on the Waratahs’ recruitment and retention policy, with their tight-five demolished following a season of injuries.

It’s an area the Waratahs have failed in since the end of the 2015 World Cup.

For the Waratahs to return to greater heights, they must first build the foundations up front in the tight-five.

Without it, they won’t be able to compete with the top teams in the competition.


Darcy Swain might be heading west at season’s end, but the Force are at risk of losing Izack Rodda.

If that occurs it’ll be a blow for the Force.

It will be an even bigger one if the experienced Wallaby leaves Australian rugby, with Rodda starting to show his worth as he builds back his fitness.

Who saw him manhandle Charlie Gamble?

Izack Rodda held Charlie Gamble up in attack during the Force’s win over the Waratahs at HBF Park on May 18, 2024. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

The Roar understands Rodda hasn’t yet convinced Rugby Australia he’s worth of a national top-up.

You can understand RA’s reservations given Rodda’s injury history over the past two years, but without locks you’re no chance of ever being consistent on the international stage.

With five of Australia’s best locks playing overseas – Will Skelton, Richie and Rory Arnold, Harry Hockings and Trevor Hosea – already, the Wallabies can’t afford to lose another one.


One year ago, the Wallaroos beat the USA 58-17 in Canada, but last Friday they lost 32-25 on home soil.

The Wallaroos were smashed up front, with the set-piece crumbling under pressure and the rolling maul on roller skates.

It was another lesson for Australian rugby that you can have all the glittering backs you want, but unless you give them quick ball it will count for zilch.

It goes to show the importance of developing a tight five.

The Wallaroos came unstuck against USA at the set-piece. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

While the women’s 15s game is still semi-professional, drastic attention needs to be paid to get the tight five up and humming.

Without it, they can kiss goodbye and chances of being competitive at next year’s World Cup and when they host the tournament in 2029.

It’s time to get creative with their contracts because the status quo isn’t working.

Christy Doran’s Australian Super Rugby team of the week:

Harry Hoopert, Tom Horton, Santiago Medrano, Izack Rodda, Josh Canham, Lachie Swinton, Jahrome Brown, Rob Valetini, Nic White, Noah Lolesio, Ollie Sapsford, Hunter Paisami, Filipo Daugunu, Lachie Anderson, Tom Wright

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